Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ahoy, me Hearties!

Wow! It's been over two weeks since I last posted an update about what we have been up to in Room 4. Yesterday we came to school dressed in our pirate gear and explored like pirates for our Pirate Discovery session. We dug for gold, walked the plank and jumped into shark invested waters, drew treasure maps, folded newspaper pirate hats, threaded bracelets with special beads, made eye-patches, and created hooks for our hands just in case we need them! Whew....

Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and the whole school is dressing up like pirates. 

Here is some of the 'Pirate Talk' I've been practising:

Ahoy! - Hello!
Ahoy, Matey - Hello, my friend!

Ahoy, me Hearties! - the same as saying "Hello, my friends!"

All hand hoay! - comparable to all hands on deck

Avast ye - stop and check this out or pay attention

Aye - yes

Booty - treasure

Crow's nest - small platform atop the mast where the lookout stands

Cutlass - short heavy curved bladed sword used by pirates

Doubloons - other coins or found in pirate hoards and stashes

Head - the pirate ship's toilet

Heave Ho - give it some muscle and push it

Jolly Roger - pirate's flag including white skull and crossbones over a black field

Lad, lass, lassie - a younger person

Landlubber - big, slow clumsy person who doesn't know how to sail

Old Salt - an experienced sailor

Pieces of eight - coins or found in pirate stashes

Savvy? - do you understand and do you agree?

Scuttle - to sink a ship

Seadog - old pirate or sailor

Shark bait - will soon join Davy Jones' Locker

Shipshape - cleaned up and under control

Thar she blows! - Whale sighting

Ye - you

Yo Ho Ho - cheerful exhortation to demand attention

And you can create your own pirate name with this Pirate Name Generator.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Spring Has Sprung

I can hardly believe it is the 1st September. We wrote stories about spring this morning and spent last week learning about spring for Discovery. Last Friday (29th August) was Daffodil Day in New Zealand and is a fund-raising and awareness day for the Cancer Society. So some of our Discovery activities were about daffodils and Daffodil Day.

The children painted watercolour pictures of a jug of daffodils.

 And we made our own daffodil badges with yellow and orange cupcake cases.

I like how one of my children described it this morning - "the daffodils are waking up."

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Apple Fractions

We have been learning about fractions in Room 4, particularly 1/2 and 1/4's. 

We made sure to wash our apples before cutting them carefully into 1/2 then 1/4's. The children were excited to eat their pieces of apple in class and I was pleased to hear them describing their apple pieces using the fraction language we have been learning.

At home you can encourage the development of mathematical concepts like fractions by using words like 'half' and 'quarters' by using food. Asking your child if they want their toast or sandwich cut into half or quarters and the same with fruit or other types of food is a good place to start. One half is 'one out of two', and one quarter is 'one out of four'.

We have also made and cut up fairy bread as part of our learning about fractions.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Waffles and Bird Feeders

Last week for our Exploration Time Discovery session we made delicious waffles and delicious (for the birds) pine-cone bird feeders.

We had three waffle makers for our waffles and used this waffle recipe, it made close to 20 waffles so if you want to make less waffles try this website. We poured maple syrup or golden syrup over our waffles and the children enjoyed eating them up quickly before the syrup dripped everywhere. 

We have made these bird feeders before and the birds love them. Because we had lots of expired peanut butter donated to us the children coated their pine-cone in peanut butter before rolling it in bird seed. You can use margarine if there are concerns about nut allergies. 

The birds went nuts for their bird feeders and they were stripped of peanut butter and bird seed within 4 days. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Fairy Bread Fractions

Yum, we love fairy bread. 

The children had a great time last Friday making and eating fraction fairy bread. We have had lots of discussions about fractions during maths time and I thought fairy bread would be a great way to encourage the children to make their own fractions. At this stage the children are just learning about halves and quarters, so they cut their fairy bread into halves or quarters before they ate it. 

Fairy bread is a New Zealand birthday party tradition, if you haven't made it before here are some step by step instructions.

Spread butter or margarine on a piece of bread. 

Sprinkle 100's and 1000's over the top of the butter.

Cut the fairy bread in 1/2.

Then cut it into quarters.

I really enjoy letting the children experience practical life activities like this one.Next week we are cutting apples into fractions.


Look who came to visit us during our last Discovery session.....

A cardboard box robot!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Teaching Your Monster to Read

I've been thinking a lot about activities that parents can do at home with their children to help support their reading development. 

Firstly the high tech version:
Teach Your Monster to Read is a great free website for children to visit. It works best if you complete it along side your child, at least until they get the hang of it. Teach Your Monter to Read focuses on letter-sound knowledge and sight word recognition. They have just released an app too.

Reading Eggs is another great website, you do need to pay to join but they do have free trials so you can test it out first. Again it works best if you sit alongside your child while they work through the activities and drills. Once they are more knowledgeable they may be able to do more by themselves. They also have several apps available, some of which are free.

The low tech version to help children learn to read can be approached from two angles; sight word recognition and letter-sound knowledge.

Sight words are the most commonly used words in text, often they are words that you can't sound out. Sight word games and activities include using flashcards, playing memory, playing snap, hiding sight words around the room to have a treasure hunt with. Click here for some sight word cards to practise with. Choose 3 or 4 cards to start with and as your child learns them add another 1 or 2 at a time until they know each word. Practise every day for a few minutes a day. Most of the early reading books that I teach children to read have lots of sight words in them, the more sight words they know the easier it is to read the books fluently.

Learning the sound each letter makes can be taught with the same type of games and activities. At Totara Park School we use Jolly Phonics to help children learn to recognise their letters. Jolly Phonics is a phonic programme that gives each letter an action and a picture to help children make  the sound. The picture and action mnemonic help children to remember the sound and written letter. (Click here for a copy of our alphabet card.) Once the children know the letter-sounds using the letter and picture cue, give the written letter only and practise that. Start with letters of your child's name, then S, A, T, P, I, N. Introduce a few new letters a week until you are practising all of the sounds every day. Sparklebox have a lot of worksheets you can print out and work on at home together.

So, if your child is struggling, or you want to give them extra support the best thing you can do is listen to them read each night and practise those sight words and letter-sounds as often as possible.